Review: One Year with the Traeger Renegade Pro

It has been one year since I purchased my Traeger Renegade Pro and there has been a lot of learning, trial, error, and awesome food during that time. Since I bought it, my Traeger Reviews have been very popular, and lead to a lot of questions from friends and family about the grill. My 6 month review has been a hit on here and is definitely a comprehensive guide to the purchase, and covered everything I received from the beginning. This post will be a write up giving my thoughts and feelings after a year with the grill.

The first thing that I felt when I started using the grill was definitely excitement and I after the first meals I made I was thrilled with the results. I am someone who enjoys cooking, and while I try to keep things simple, I love good flavor and have continually added complexity to my meals and ventured into new things. The Traeger was something new to me, and I had nerves about “messing up” or doing things wrong, but in reality there is a simplicity to the cooking with the grill.

When I first received the Traeger and began using it, it was incredible. It definitely made me go “wow!” The flavor was noticeable and I loved how the cooking worked with it. It was simple, easy, and pretty self sufficient. The grill has become a staple in our house. Nearly every meal has been cooked on it. As time has gone on, that has definitely remained the case, however, schedules have been a lot more busy this Spring/Summer – so far – and that has cramped the style a bit. The lesser use has nothing to do with the grill, just the time that we have had to cook with it.

Chuck Roast on the Traeger Renegade Pro
Chuck Roast on the Traeger Renegade Pro

Pros

This grill has definitely made me a better cook. It has expanded how I make meals – from the seasonings I will use to the techniques I have learned when cooking. Things like reverse searing and low and slow were not things that I did before and there was definitely an adjustment to it. It has also created a new go to meal in the house which is our burritos/burrito bowls using either chuck roast, or pork butt. Cooking them all day allowing the meat to pull and mixing with some cilantro-lime rice, black bean salsa, and coleslaw is fantastic. Then, having a super tasty, quick leftover to grab and reheat when making lunches or dinners during the week is great.

The flavor that the grill is able to produce and impart with the pellets is incredible. I see a lot of people complaining about the “lack of smoke” that they can get on the food, and I believe the primary issue people are running into is a lack of patience. They are cooking the food too quickly and not allowing the necessary time. Pellet grills do take a bit more time than a true wood-fired grill to impart the flavor. What I have learned is to allow the grill to do its work, start early, and just let it go.

Pork Shoulder from the Traeger Renegade Pro
Pork Shoulder from the Traeger Renegade Pro

Most of the time I am using the grill I am keeping it set to between 180-225, and allowing the majority of the cook to happen at these temperatures. This would be the case for everything from pork butt, to a roast, and many other cuts of meat. From there, once it has adequate color, I will increase the heat to finish things off, but I also allow the grill to run for the entire day as needed.

Any time I have recommended this grill, or any of the Traeger Grills, I ensure the end user is aware that the cooking style is not the same as what they are likely used to. This has lead to many conversations walking people through recent cooks, or recipes, or “How would you do this on there” and from there – walking them through the process, and let them come to their own judgement as to whether it is something they want. The grill is behaves more like an oven than a grill. As long as people can understand this, they should be alright.

One of the best meals that came from the Traeger was for our Thanksgiving turkey. I primarily followed the Traeger recipe from Thanksgiving, and that lead to a silent table of people enjoying their meal.

Turkey Cooked on Traeger Renegade Pro
Finished Turkey that was made on the Traeger Renegade Pro – Thanksgiving 2018

Cons

With all of the good, there has definitely been a few downsides as well. The downsides I have experienced have primarily been with the Traeger Support department, but there are definitely some negatives I have with the grill too, but these have a lot to do with my budget going in.

The Traeger support organization definitely lacks in quality, organization, and follow through. I definitely feel there is a lack of expediency, and care for the consumer. While the conversations that I had with the department were mostly fine, the end results left a lot to be desired. The lack of stock on integral parts, like a leg, or wheel, or even their insulation blanket, among other items is simply unbelievable.

When I would reach out to them, I was surprised and happy with getting someone on the line, having them update the records, then let me know they would be shipping out replacement parts. This thrilled me, but then I would be waiting days, weeks, and upwards of months for the parts. A full recap of my experiences with the Traeger “VIP” Support team can be found on the site as well.

In addition to the support team, I do have some nit-picky issues with the grill itself. There is a lack of flexibility with the grill based on its design, and going in, I was aware of this. The drip tray is great for keeping flare ups from occurring, but definitely is critical to keep clean, as this can subsequently ignite if turning the temperature up and dirty. With a required drip tray, you also lose that direct heat option if you want it. For some, this is disappointing.

In addition to the drip tray and lack of ability for direct heat, the temperature probe is known to have issues leading to issues when it is not clean, leading to incorrect temperature readings, subsequently leading to issues controlling temperature with the controller.

Additionally with the controller, the temperature options are rather limited as well, going from 180 to 225 (45 degree difference?!) then 25 degree increments to 350, then MAX which is ~400-450 degrees. It would have been nice to have more options of temperature. While the selection is limited, I have had decent success with the grill averaging close to the requested temperature.

Finally, the size of this particular model is great when it is just my wife and me, but when cooking for more people, I would definitely prefer the 34″ model, or at this point, one of the Ironwood or Timberline series offerings.

Conclusions

Over the last 12 months I have covered a lot about my experiences with the Traeger Renegade Pro. After a month of ownership I expressed my Love for my grill, and from then I published my three-month review which covered some of the initial accessories, like the front shelf and pizza kit. In the six month review I did a deep dive on Customer Service, Traeger’s Rubs and Pellets, and my latest posts have been chronicles of their Support Team where I gave a detailed look at my experiences with Customer Service.

There have definitely been ups and downs in the time, but the real telling aspect of this is that in the end, I would have definitely made this purchase again. While I may not have bought everything again, I still believe that it is hard to argue with what I was able to get for the price. Most of the items have been worth it for learning, and seeing what Traeger had to offer.

Rubs and Sauces received with my Traeger grill.

When looking at alternatives, I am confident that I got the best item for me at the price I paid. While delivered the grill and accessories were around $1,000, to get the core grill itself, and piecing a couple other must-haves, it would have been closer to the original $650 retail price than what I paid, but I would not have had all of the pellets, accessories, and other things that I was able to give a shot. One thousand dollars starts pushing the needle closer to the other grills I am interested in, but they are nearly $2000. Those others would be the Mak Grills Two star general (there maybe more on this to come…), or the YS640s which is being seen on ATBBQ on YouTube, with the great Chef Tom.

I would still highly recommend the Traeger Grills to someone who is actively looking at buying a pellet grill. I believe at their price point it is hard to not recommend. A lot of the common issues that are being seen in the community can be attributed to maintenance, improper pellet storage, and impatience when cooking. The results that I am having with my grill are easy to achieve by anyone, and I am still loving my grill.

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